AQIZ Org Chart – Take Two

AQIZ.JPGIn May, counterterrorism expert Evan Kohlmann kindly allowed me to preview his organization chart for al Qaeda in Iraq. Mr. Kolhmann has updated the chart and again forwarded it to me for review.

The May version of the organizational chart contained 42 individuals. At the time, 10 were listed as killed, 18 captured and 14 wanted. Eight “brigades” and three brigade leaders were identified.

Since the release of the May version, three more lieutenants, Abdullah Abu Azzam, Suleiman Darwash and Abu Talha were killed or captured. This equates to three-quarters of the known al Qaeda command structure being removed from the battlefield. The senior commanders and brigade leaders, including Zarqawi, Abu Abdelrahman al-Iraqi (deputy commander), Abu Usaid al-Iraqi (military commander), and Abu Maysarah al-Iraqi (media director) remained on the run.

The new version of Mr. Kolhmann’s organizational chart contains 46 members. There are now thirteen brigades, of which five the commanders are identifiable. Twelve members in the outer ring (the “middle managers” ) have been killed and seven captured, This is over two-fifths of the organization’s leaders killed or captured. Again, Zarqawi and the senior command remain untouched.

There are some discrepancies between the two lists, as some members on the prior list were dropped and some of those killed or captured in the May list remained. However, it remains an excellent representation of al Qaeda in Iraq’s leadership. A cursory look at the graphic shows al Qaeda’s middle management, their commanders which equate to their generals or colonels in the field, have had an inordinately high attrition rate. These are experienced commanders who are experienced in daily operations, and are difficult to replace. Al Qaeda in Iraq’s senior command has been immune to the hardships encountered by their subordinates, however.

An Aside:

There has been much debate since the death of Abdullah Abu Azzam. The Coalition stated he was al Qaeda in Iraq’s second in command, however several experts including Mr. Kolhmann, refute this. A look at the background of Azzam shows he was a significant figure in the organization, and his status as commander of Anbar province and his direction of operations in Baghdad underlines this point.

When Zarqawi was believed to be on his deathbed, Abdullah Abu Azzam along with Suleiman Darwash and Abu Talha were touted as being potential successors. It is a mistake to view al Qaeda as a strictly hierarchical organization. The status and power of it members often rises and falls based on their prowess in fighting jihad. Much of al Qaeda’s organizational structure is deliberately kept secret. See Dan Darling’s post at Winds of Change for more on this topic.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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28 Comments

  • Mixed Humor says:

    Look forward to seeing the new one.

  • Dax Roggio says:

    If your articles reveal anything of this world, it is simply that Bill Roggio loves war.
    Though it concerns me that you persistently use your obvious gift for language (and an impressive accumulation of misleading facts) to justify the actions of the Bush administration, it pains me more to see you waste so much time trying to convince yourself that your time as a soldier was not equally wasted.
    It must be harsh mirror in which you see more men, woman, and children die for the lies of powerful men seeking more power.
    I cannot express how disgusted I am to share your last name. I can only hope no one confuses your hateful soul with that of my uncle of the same name.

  • Dax Roggio says:

    A link of some interest…

  • Terry Gain says:

    Dax Roggio or whoever you are.
    As a reader of this blog for the past six months it’s clear to me that the proprietors of this site, including Mr. Roggio, not only love freedom, unlike you, they know what it take to obtain freedom and they have the courage and clarity of moral purpose to support such efforts regardless of mindless criticism from the likes of you- who have nothing constructive to offer.
    Or where were you when Saddam was killing Iraqis by the hundreds of thousands?

  • Kartik says:

    I give Dax Roggio about 6 hours before he is out-debated and utterly humiliated, and retreats hastily with his forked tail between his legs.
    If leftists had common sense, they would not be leftists.

  • hamidreza says:

    Dax Roggio – By “men, women, and children” do you mean the terrorists, who wish to install a Taliban state, and their wives who materially support their criminality and their children who are held hostage as “human shields”?
    Or do you mean the poor Shiites blown up by Zarqawi, who is in turn supported by Galloway, Fisk, Cindy Sheehan, Juan Cole, Michael Moore, and the western reactionary leftists?
    If there are any other, then pls. send link. Thanks.

  • Ike says:

    Guys like Dax merely need to continue speaking to humiliate themselves. We don’t even need to respond to him.

  • hamidreza says:

    Quantity of operations by the ISF involving more than 100 troops has increased 8 fold from 160 in May to 1300 in September.
    //www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=55111&version=1&template_id=42&parent_id=18

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Gen Petraus talks about Iraqi Units –
    //www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20051005-4021.html

  • norad says:

    dax roggio, a.k.a. kim jong il

  • ghoullio says:

    where are his facts to back up his assertions that the 4th Rail has ever mislead anyone? if he is such a warmongering hateful bastard, it should be easy to pinpoint his many and obvious flaws within his blog.
    out with it, Dax.
    inquiring minds want to know…

  • Oded says:

    Dax without the support of facts, constructive criticism or alternative ideas your bloviating is nothing more than a bunch of hot air. If you care to be taken seriously, bring something other than your common last name to the table. Otherwise you’re in serious danger of being another irrelevant leftist on the wrong side of history. Dont worry though at least youll still be able to read the Times and WP in historys dustbin.

  • serurier says:

    Seems like Dax Roggio is good friend of terrorists . Why you still don’t join terrorists ?

  • BenJCarter says:

    Dax = Troll.
    Bill: Thanks for the fantastic analysis of Iraqi operations.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Dax,
    As we may very well be cousins, it is curious that you have taken the time to insult me without even attempting to get to know me. My email address is displayed prominently, you could have had the courtesy to contact me privately. I assure you I would have responded. But no matter, what’s done is done.
    Your characture of me is both sad and misguided. For a peace loving individual such as yourself, you are certainly quick to go on the attack. That doesn’t seem to be the Quaker way, unless I have it all wrong… (you did link to a Quaker website)
    Unlike you, I am not disgusted to share the same last name with you. This is America, and we are all entitled to hold and express our own opinions. Is that not the Quaker way as well? Or do you selectively practice what you preach?
    Best wishes to you and the Roggio Clan on the West Coast, from the Philadelphia Roggio Clan.

  • hamidreza says:

    //www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20051005-4021.html
    Sept. 2005
    ISF = 197,000
    Police = 68,000
    Border Police = 17,000
    Secret Service = 600
    Highway Patrol
    Ministry of Interior = 106,000
    Ministry of Defense = 91,000
    1 Bn = 700 to 1,000 (higher for older units)
    IA = 80 Bn
    IP = 35 Bn = (IPC + IPPO + IPM + IPERU + IP?)
    IPC (IP commandos) = 12 Bn
    IPPO (IP public order) = 12 Bn
    IPM (IP mechanized) = 3 Bn
    IPERU (IP emergency response unit) = 1 Bn
    IP? = 7 Bn
    IAP Level 4 (“training”)
    IAP Level 3 (“fighting alongside MNF”) = 80 Bn
    IAP Level 2 (“being in the lead”) = 35 Bn
    IAP Level 1 (“totally independent of MNF”) = 1 Bn – this is probably the IPERU.
    “several Bn a month” graduate from Level 3 to Level 2.
    Note Level 2 is preferred to Level 1, because Level 2 depends and is controlled by MNF. Petraeus: “focus should be on L2 not L1”. L2 “can replace our forces”. L3 to L2 is “the key jump”. These L2 are “all teeth”, and therefore represent a larger army.
    IAP Level 2 having “their own area of operation” = about 20 Bn, 7 in Baghdad
    IA-L2 10 Bn in NW of Iraq (Ninawa)
    IA-L2 16 Bn in Anbar, mostly on the east
    This may explain the disappearing act of IA in Operation Hunter: There are only about 28 IA Level 2, and they have already been assigned to Talafar and Fallujah and Baghdad. There are no IA-L2 to spare.

  • serurier says:

    Bill Roggio , may you send a lager pic ? thanks .

  • Justin Capone says:

    Don’t you people see you are committing genocide on the Iraqi people. Our presence in Iraq is motivating the jihadis to butcher innocents by exploding themselves in mosques. Zarqawi wouldn’t be evil if we weren’t in Iraq. Iraq wants to live under Sunni minority rule and the US is preventing the Iraqis true desire.
    *cough* *sarcasm*
    But, the sad thing is if you go to Juan Cole’s website he really believes most of that. He truely believes and wants Sunni minority rule back in Iraq and thinks it is perfectly legitimite that they do it at the point of a gun with help from mass murdering jihadis.

  • Ike says:

    //www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,171394,00.html
    This is just disgusting. In a time of war, our “politicians” wnat to handcuff our military who is working to detain information from terrorists. This so infuriating to me that I can’t even express myself. The worst part is that this is a Republican led effort. This is shameful, gutless and pandering to linguine spined people in the DNC and the press. We have MORE important things to be doing in Congress (border security, Soc. Security, Katrina, designing solutions for Iran, etc.) to be playing games with steroids, bird flu and now this garbage. I am very close to not voting Republican again.

  • Jamison1 says:

    Task Force Liberty and Iraqi forces commence OPERATION SARATOGA for Ramadan observance, referendum voting security
    //www.blackanthem.com/News/military_2005100501.html

  • goesh says:

    This is a darn good blog that gives the straight scoop on what is actually occuring on the ground. Jihadists count on people like Dax, they are tacit allies, but their mutual mistake is in thinking Iraq is Viet Nam all over again. Congress keeps the funding going and will continue to do so because more is at stake than the overthrow of a dictator and his WMD, which everyone seems to agree that he had at one time. People like this Dax character don’t realize that the American people do connect islamic facism with monsters like saddam hussein. They also realize that for every jihadi killed in Iraq, there is one less who will be killing civilians there or elsewhere. The biggest mistake people like Dax make is assuming they are more intelligent than the rest of us.

  • cjr says:

    hamidreza
    From another press briefing:
    IAP Level 4 (“training”) = 14 Bn
    Since training for ISF averages about 9 weeks, about 7 Bn per month should be graduating from Level 4 to Level 3.

  • adamthemadman says:

    Hi Bill,

    Again, Zarqawi and the senior command remain untouched.

    Just curious: I haven’t really seen much discussion of reasons why the senior ‘management’ is so elusive. The last speculation I read was that the senior Al Qaeda was in Waziristan under the protection of tribal elders. However, I imagine we would have had the area mapped out and full ofturncoats by now.
    Is there any speculation about, not necessarily where, but why they are able to evade the Coalition forces. Are they being protected by other governments?
    What’s the hold up, in your opinion?

  • Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Leadership Chart

    Counterterrorism expert Evan Kohlman has put together an updated chart (pdf file) of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s leadership in Iraq. Bill Roggio also offered his thoughts and analysis on the chart. Since the release of the May version, three more lieutenant…

  • Mixed Humor says:

    Some of al Qaeda’s leadership is in Iran:
    Though the Iranians haven’t mentioned any names, intelligence officials and press reports indicate they’ve captured Saad bin Laden, Osama bin Laden’s son, who has assumed a leadership role; Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the Al Qaeda spokesman; and Saif al-Adel, the latest No. 3 who is believed to be in charge of military operations.
    Source
    A good many others are taking dirt naps or locked up in prison. There’s a case to be made that Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri are also in Iran, or enjoying protection at the state level in some form or another. They probably have only a few body guard with them, wherever they are.

  • kat-missouri says:

    Some thoughts on the leadership question and why we are unable to capture them:
    1) First to understand their strategy. Zawahiri wrote in Knights Under the Prophets Banner that protecting the leadership and ensuring it’s survival was paramount to the continuation of the movement. He literally wrote that, should they be confronted that the best tactics were to a) withdraw as much of the force as possible to safety; if that was not possible b) to put a large force together to fight the enemy, keep them busy and distracted and pull the leadership, as much as possible, out of the fight, leaving the fighters in place. This we saw in Tora Bora, Mosul, Fallujah, Qaim and numerous other places within Iraq. better to sacrifice the foot soldiers and local commanders than to lose the entire command structure.
    2) In a recent letter captured from Abu Zayd when he was killed, he wrote that the mujihadeen had poor morale and said that they missed when Zarqawi used to come and visit with them directly. It gave the impression that they had not seen Zarqawi for many months, not just a few weeks. Zarqawi was reportedly seriously injured in May 2005.
    3) In the same letter and one captured from Abu Azzam, both letters complained of the lack of money, the poor conditions for the mujihadeen and the spendthrift ways of the leadership that they felt were in effective and wasteful.
    It is very probable that Zarqawi is in hiding somewhere that makes it very dangerous for him to come to the other areas of Iraq. He may even be out of the country like in Syria or Iran. Most likely Syria since his last known location was near the syrian border being treated by a physician for his serious wounds. We also know that when we attacked Qaim and other border towns in previous operations there were somewhere close to 500 fighters, largely foreign, and that many of these were captured or killed when they chose to stand and fight.
    This says that those forces were holding a blocking position, keeping our forces busy while the leadership contingent moved away from the area. Considering our own blocking positions, there were limited directions to go in, although, it is very likely that they had much fore knowledge of our attack and had moved the leadership elements well in advance of our own actions and blocking movements. This actually happened in Fallujah and Tora Bora.
    The money issue I believe is significant since the way to move money for the organization typically are human carriers who are given large amounts of cash, like $3000 or so to an individual, withdrawn from bank accounts in Syria and Jordan and then physically carried over into Iraq. Even Zawahiri complains that funds are short and asks Zarqawi to provide funds to them. Further, a recent announcement by Saddam’s family in Jordan indicates that they are “broke” and unable to pay for Saddam’s defense team.
    All of this adds up to smuggling rings being broken, border security is tighter and Zarqawi and the other movements are having a tougher time moving cash to their commanders.
    Another way they were making money was by kidnapping and ransoming, not only workers from other countries, but Iraqis themselves. Recent news indicates that many kidnappings have been thwarted or the kidnappers captured because the civilian populace is now providing much more information. I think another indicator of the poor going for kidnappers is that the process was local gangs or brigades would do the kidnapping on commission or to sale their victims up the chain of command. Both Woods and the most recently released victim (I apologize I can’t remember his name) were not with the mujihadeen, ansar al Sunnah or AQ in iraq but still being held by what amounts to the local tribal kidnapping ring. This says to me that the upper chain could no longer pay the going price for these victims and the local cells were forced to try to do something, get some money by their own efforts instead of selling them for head chopping videos. Also, the head chopping was making the top leadership unpopular with their support base (thus Zawahiri keeps admonishing them, once in video and now on this memo, to stop using those tactics).
    Lastly, Zawahiri has pushing Zarqawi for several months to expand his attacks against America and Europe, which he has.
    Oh, the letters also said that commanders were not sending Zarqawi truthful reports on the situation. Which means that Zarqawi not only cannot physically be with them, but is far enough away from the ground situation that he has no real idea of his ground forces capabilities and real successes.
    all in all, this says that it is likely that Zarqawi is not in Iraq at all but somewhere where he can only get certain information, where movement is restricted, either by US forces, area or his physical condition and that he does not have as much command and control as he did in the beginning of his efforts. Probably the reason why we are able to round up much of his leadership and why it is probable that some of the leadership was betrayed by either subordinates or peers in order to consolidate their position behind Zarqawi should he be unable to return.
    We can use this same logic on Zawahiri. He asks for news and money which means that he is likely in an extremely remote location without access to satellite television or broad band radio. Anything that he is currently getting maybe only VOA broadcasts with the information we chose to give out, if that. Where ever he is, there are no banks, no businesses to process halwa transactions (sort of arab version of western union) and little access or contact with others accept through a strict courier service which is limited due to security and probably location.
    This was further exemplified by the letter Zawahiri wrote which was about a week or two after the July 7 bombings, which means that he did not have access to live feed on the events and had to rely on couriers with messages or older newspapers to provide the information. It then took several weeks for the memo to get sent to Zarqawi, prior to being captured (probably on or about the same time that Hakim, director of Taliban communications was captured). Which is a good indication that Zawahiri is in Waziristan.
    Another indicator was the state of his clothing, the location of his last video and the condition of the recording compared to a video of OBL released shortly after.
    while Zawahiri appeared clean and presentable, in contrast, OBL’s clothes appeared to be crisp, clean and new, his location was comfortable, indoor, clean and appeared well cared for. I recall that the large brown square that was behind him did not cover the entire wall, but instead a specific area which means that somethng on that wall would have given his location away. Something like a map, or a seal or someother image, even a picture, that someone would have recognized immediately. The quality of the video and audi was even better than Zawahiri’s. Further, OBL’s last video and words seemed to indicate that he was much more aware of recent events in a more timely matter and the video was released within days, not a week or so later.We had some indication of this during last years election when OBL seemed quite aware of the Democrat talking points and expounded on several of them.
    My favorite was his mention of the little goat book referred to in Dem talking points and MM’s F911. Which reminds me that it was right about that time that the video was being shown in Iran. Coincidence? Given the fact that his son was there and he had sent several of his wives and children their with some trusted lieutenants, I believe that it doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to believe that that is where OBL ended up.
    OBL and Zawahiri are most likely not in the same location. In past videos they appeared together. Now they are apart and they issue separate statements. meaning that they are not in contact with each other regularly either.
    Lastly, I expect that there must be some sort of chatter amongst the mujihadeen on forums and other websites that are wondering exactly where OBL and Zawahiri are and why they think that they are in a better position than a commander on the ground to direct the tactics and strategies. Particularly when Zawahiri has twice now told Zarqawi that behadings and blowig up children are hurting their cause and twice now either a Zarqawi religious leader or Zarqawi himself has responded negatively to these directives. The other give away is the President’s speech.
    While I recall him saying that OBL was wanted dead or alive in the days after 9/11, since then he has been rather circumspect about mentioning OBL directly as a single target. In his latest address he specifically points out that OBL grew up wealthy and privileged, that he has no compunction about telling young men to blow themselves up and stand and fight to die while he does neither.
    A good indication that OBL, having once shared the conditions and danger of his mujihadeen, no longer does. A good tactic to put a wedge between the leadership and draw out OBL. As a matter of fact, I am expecting that he or Zawahiri will make some sort of reply in the next 30 days or less since that was a direct challenge to their leadership (Zawahri’s recently released letter doesn’t count since it was written well prior to the speech and does not address it).
    That I believe is a good indicator of the condition and position of the top leadership that we are unable to nab.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis